Why the Chicago Bulls should have traded Derrick Rose two years ago

Rose will never be the same, but even healthy he’s never going to win an NBA title.

Derrick Rose. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

My friend Otherwise is a Chicago Bulls fan. I’m a Denver Nuggets fan. So we commiserate sometimes.

Back in 2009, Bulls point guard Derrick Rose won the Rookie of the Year award. The next year he was an all-star. And in 2011 he become the youngest player in history to be named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.

The following year he was fantastic again, right up until he blew his ACL. As he was rehabbing, I suggested to Otherwise that Chicago should trade him, then and there. Yes, he was hurt, but there was no reason to think he wouldn’t bounce back and at that moment in time I’m guessing league GMs would have lined up around the block to offer the sun, moon and stars for him. Heck, who could have known that he was going to rip up his knees every 15 minutes, right?

I had two reasons for proposing that the Bulls ship Rose out. Continue reading “Why the Chicago Bulls should have traded Derrick Rose two years ago”

The American Basketball Association: remembering the six best things about a true original

The ABA was an innovator that changed the face of modern basketball.

Some of the league’s new ideas survived and made their way into the game we see played today. Here are our six favorite ABA things, in no particular order.

1: The three-point shot. The ABA didn’t invent it – the idea had been around for some time, and Abe Saperstein’s ABL was the first league to implement it back in 1961 – but they knew a great idea when they saw it and were the league responsible for popularizing the rule that has utterly transformed the game over the past 40 years.

2: Three-to-make-two. When a team was in the bonus, fouled players got three free throw attempts, if needed, to make two baskets. This rule didn’t survive, but I bet Dwight Howard wishes it had. In fact, bringing it back might be a way of helping The League deal with its persistent Hack-a-Shaq problem. UPDATED: I have been informed that this was an old NBA rule that predated the ABA. So scratch item #2, and I guess it’s now the five best things about the ABA. Apologies.
Continue reading “The American Basketball Association: remembering the six best things about a true original”

NCAA Final Four: Kentucky vs. UConn reminds us how bad American sports are at deciding champions

US sports leagues reward inferior teams and routinely deny their best teams the championship.

Richard Allen Smith and I have argued from time to time about the merits of the BCS vs. the NCAA basketball tournament. Rich defends the BCS, while I point out its unfairness and corruption. He argues that the BCS does (did) a good job at getting the two best teams on the field for the final game, and that the single-elimination format of the Dance routinely allows inferior teams to win.

Whatever you may think about the BCS, it has to be said that Rich is right about March Madness. Tonight we’re going to see a “national championship” game featuring a team whose regular season performance merited them a seed in the 28-31 range playing a team whose record earned them an 8 seed – which is to say, they were somewhere in the early- to mid-30s. Continue reading “NCAA Final Four: Kentucky vs. UConn reminds us how bad American sports are at deciding champions”

The NBA and the Miami Heat double-standard: the Stern Crime Family strikes again

Let’s review. This was an automatic, on the spot flagrant 2 and ejection. But this – a blindside cheap shot, a two-handed shove and some subsequent manhandling of the ref – earned only a flagrant 1. Note that LeBron flopped like a Portuguese midfielder while Hansbrough remained upright. And this flying WWE-style flying elbow from Dwyane Wade was assessed a flagrant 1, but only after the league office reviewed it the next day. Flagrant 1s earn the opposition a free throw and the ball. Flagrant 2s get the offender ejected. And if you’re the sort of conspiracy theorist who thinks the NBA … Continue reading The NBA and the Miami Heat double-standard: the Stern Crime Family strikes again

Hey, Chicago Bulls fans: I’m starting to worry about Derrick Rose

Starmelo is in the news today telling everybody to LEAVE DERRICK ROSE ALONE! “I wish y’all would stop rushing Derrick back,” said Anthony, whose Knicks, winners of 13 straight, play the Bulls on Thursday night. “Please. He shouldn’t come back until he’s about 110 percent ready. I don’t think he should come back if he’s not ready to go out there and play. If he can’t compete at a high level, then what’s a couple more months going to do? What’s two more months going to do? I don’t think he should come back, and that’s just my opinion. “I … Continue reading Hey, Chicago Bulls fans: I’m starting to worry about Derrick Rose

It’s true. I’m now pulling for LeBron.

I used to be a LeBron fan. Then came The Decision, which annoyed me mightily. It wasn’t that he left Cleveland – he should have left Cleveland – it was the whole spectacle of how he did it. As I explained when it happened, that ESPN special was the moral equivalent of buying time on national TV to break up with your girlfriend. It was as self-absorbed and cruel as it was unnecessary.

So I’ve enjoyed his life on the griddle. Flaming out in the Finals last year. Enduring relentless pressure about his tendency to disappear in crunch time. And on and on. It’s been a stress-packed couple of years for King James. In other words, karma. Continue reading “It’s true. I’m now pulling for LeBron.”

Lakers/Nuggets post-mortem: I told you so, sorta

About last night. Here’s what I predicted. Here’s what happened. A few brief comments and then we’ll put it to bed.

First, the officials did indeed arrive in a clown car and, as expected, they spent a great deal of time hosing the guys in blue shirts down with seltzer. In the end, though, their performance probably wasn’t much worse than it is during any other game, so your final grades will reflect whether or not your gauges are calibrated to “basic competence” or “sucked about like they normally do.” Continue reading “Lakers/Nuggets post-mortem: I told you so, sorta”

Lakers/Nuggets Game 7 preview: call your bookie because the #fix is in

Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers will square off with the visiting Denver Nuggets in a first-round playoff Game 7 that promises to be crackling with intensity. I’m a big fan of my hometown Nugs and I expect them to bring their A games.

I also expect them to lose, no matter what, because however well prepared they are, however brilliant George Karl’s game planning, however incredibly they may shoot and rebound and defend, they’re playing 5-on-8.

Put simply, it is not in the league’s financial interest to have LA lose to Denver. Continue reading “Lakers/Nuggets Game 7 preview: call your bookie because the #fix is in”

Rivieras and Siberias and why players can’t wait to get the hell out of most NBA cities

I’d like to offer up a theory. Tell me what you think.

I’ve written some lately about the NBA, which despite all its flaws is still my favorite North American professional sports league. (My favorite pro league anywhere, of course, is the English Premiership, the greatest soccer league in the world.) In particular, I’ve pondered The League’s structural issues vis a vis its big vs. small markets, and let’s be clear in understanding that the new labor deal did not fix those problems. It merely swept them under the rug for a few years where they can fester, multiply and grow really big teeth. Continue reading “Rivieras and Siberias and why players can’t wait to get the hell out of most NBA cities”

Can the NBA be saved? A modest proposal….

I predicted months ago that there would be no 2011-12 NBA season. I hoped I was wrong (still do), but there were some fundamental structural issues that I felt were going to be hard to address in the collective bargaining process. While all hope isn’t yet completely dead, it looks very, very bad – so bad that at this stage I’m already beginning to wonder if there’s going to be a 2012-13 season. I’m wondering if the NBA as we know it is done.

Actually, the crux of the issue lies with the fact that, unlike most labor cycles, this one doesn’t feature two sides at odds. Continue reading “Can the NBA be saved? A modest proposal….”

LeBron James: welcome to the Punk Hall of Fame

Let’s say you’re a guy and you’ve been involved with a woman. Long-term, committed, exclusive relationship. Several years together. You loved her dearly through the years and she’s simply gaga over you, for reasons none of your friends fully understand. But now, now you’ve realized that it isn’t going to work any longer. Maybe you have different priorities. Maybe you want kids and she doesn’t. Maybe the fire has died in the bedroom. Maybe you’ve grown apart and your life together just doesn’t satisfy you anymore.

Whatever the reason, you realize that the relationship has to end. For better or worse you have a right to be happy and she shouldn’t have to live with a guy who sees her as something he’s settling for. You have all kinds of misgivings, but you’ve thought about it long and hard and, while it’s going to hurt like hell, it’s the right thing to do.

Now you have to figure out the best way to break up. You know that face-to-face is what she deserves. But a telephone call would be easier on you, providing you with some distance from the pain. An e-mail would be easier still. And you know that sometimes kids even break up with a text message.

Finally, you figure out what to do. “Honey, flip on Lifetime at 9pm Eastern. I have something I want to tell you.” Continue reading “LeBron James: welcome to the Punk Hall of Fame”

Predicting the 21st Century: Nostraslammy’s ten-year review

Ten years ago, at the turn of the millennium, Nostraslammy took a stab at predicting the 21st Century, with a promise to check back every ten years to see how the prognostications were turning out. Odds are good I won’t be able to do a review every ten years until 2100, but I figure I’m probably good through 2030, at least, barring some unforeseen calamity. And if you’re Nostraslammy, what’s this “unforeseen” thing, anyway?

Let’s see how our 22 articles of foresight are holding up, one at a time.

1: Researchers will develop either a vaccine or a cure for AIDS by 2020. However, it will be expensive enough that the disease will plague the poor long after it has become a non-issue for the rich and middle classes (although this is one case where political leaders might fund free treatment programs). The end of AIDS will trigger a sexual revolution that will compare to or exceed that of the 1960s and 1970s (unless another deadly sexually-transmitted disease evolves, which is certainly a possibility). Continue reading “Predicting the 21st Century: Nostraslammy’s ten-year review”

The uneasy truth behind Tim Donaghy’s allegations

Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who was convicted of two charges related to betting on NBA games (some of which he worked as an official), is out of prison, pimping a new book and telling his story to 60 Minutes and ESPN. What he’s saying, and who’s backing him up, has to be giving NBA Commish David Stern a king-hell case of the nightsweats.

We’ll stipulate up front that the witness has a credibility issue. Continue reading “The uneasy truth behind Tim Donaghy’s allegations”

Michael Vick and the problem with forgiveness

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has conditionally reinstated former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, who was convicted of running a dogfighting ring in 2007. Vick served 23 months in federal prison, followed by two months of house arrest.

Last Thursday the Philadelphia Eagles answered the question as to which team would sign a convicted dog-killer (there were 32 possible answers to the question, and “none of the above” wasn’t one of them), and in doing so touched off a long-awaited PR war for the souls of their stunned fans. Continue reading “Michael Vick and the problem with forgiveness”

The NBA: where will “fixed” happen this year?

We watch sports for a variety of reasons. To revel in the thrill of head-to-head competition. To marvel at the athleticism. To root for the home team, in which we have somehow invested a piece of our own identities. To mark our place in the timeless ritual. To learn, even.

With the NBA, there’s one more reason: to see which narrative the league has decided is the most compelling.

Now, I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist. I don’t think the world is biased against me personally and I don’t believe that the refs are out to get my team. In most cases, my attempts to explain bad officiating, whatever the sport, need go no further than “basic incompetence.” Continue reading “The NBA: where will “fixed” happen this year?”

Four simple steps to solving the NBA’s persistent ref problem

I don’t write about sports issues here very often, but … let’s make an exception for this one.

The NBA is in the news big time today, and not because of last night’s Lakers win over the Celtics. Former referee Tim Donaghy, convicted of taking bribes and betting on games he officiated, has now alleged that at least two games – one in 2002 and another in 2005 – involved inappropriate behavior by game officials. In 2002, he says, game 6 of the Western Conference finals between LA and Sacramento was fixed outright. Continue reading “Four simple steps to solving the NBA’s persistent ref problem”

Summer of scandal and the death of sport?

I love sports. Always have. I grew up playing all the usual sports and eagerly tried out a lot of others when I got older. I’ve always been a big spectator, too, watching everything from football, basketball and baseball to soccer, track, cycling, volleyball, water polo – whatever was on, you know?

But these days I watch less sports than at any point in my life, and it seems likely that this downward trend is going to continue. The why is pretty simple. I was raised old school by a grandfather who grew up playing through the Depression. People who knew him back then and saw him play said that under different circumstances he might have been good enough to play in the Bigs. Maybe. Hard to say, because the hard realities of life intruded on the dreams of many in his generation. So he wound up working for a few dollars a week and playing ball on the weekends.

There was a right way and a wrong way to play. Hard, but fair. Sportsmanship mattered. Continue reading “Summer of scandal and the death of sport?”